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What are Compound Words?

Compound words are formed when two or more words are put together to form a new word with a new
meaning. They can function as different parts of speech, which can dictate what form the compound
takes on. For example, the word carry over is an open compound word when its used as a verb but it is
closed when used as a noun and an a adjective.

This surplus will carry over to next season.

The extra supplies were part of the carryover from the budget.

Compound words are so prevalent in the English language we dont think much about them until its
time to write them. Then we often have to stop and think about how theyre put together.

Examples of Compound Words

Compound words fall within three categories and its not unusual to find the same word in more than
one group. Here are the three types of compound words with an explanation and examples of each:

Closed compound words are formed when two unique words are joined together. They dont have a
space between them and they are the type that generally comes to mind when we think of compound
words. For example:

Cannot Baseball

Fireworks Grandmother

Elsewhere Upside

Together Sunflower

Crosswalk Become

Basketball Moonlight

Football Railroad

Anybody Weatherman

Skateboard Earthquake

Everything Sometimes

Schoolhouse Upstream

Fireflies Grasshopper

Inside Playthings

I love the fireworks on the fourth of July.

Make sure you hold hands when you come to the crosswalk.
The ocean was bathed in moonlight.

Did you hear amount the terrible earthquake?

The fireflies buzzed in the night sky.

Open compound words have a space between the words but when they are read together a new
meaning is formed:

Ice cream Grand jury

Cave in Post office

Real estate Middle class

Full moon Attorney general

Half sister

Ice cream is my favorite dessert.

The line at the post office snaked all the way out the door and around the corner.

Rhonda is my half sister.

There must be a full moon out tonight.

Hyphenated compound words are connected by a hyphen. To avoid confusion, modifying compounds
are often hyphenated, especially when they precede a noun such as in the case of part-time teacher,
high-speed chase, and fifty-yard dash. When they come after the noun they are open compounds: a
chase that is high speed, a teacher that is part time, etc. Comparative and superlative adjectives are
hyphenated when they are compounded with other modifiers: the highest-priced computer, the lower-
priced car. Adverbs that end in ly and compounded with another modifier are not modified: a highly
rated restaurant, a publicly held meeting.

Here are more examples of hyphenated compound words.

One-half Mother-in-law

Eighty-six One-third

Merry-go-round Well-being

Mass-produced Over-the-counter

Daughter-in-law

My mother-in-law is coming for a visit.

The merry-go-round at the carnival thrilled Ella.

Some over-the-counter drugs can have serious side effects.


airport
dragonfly hookworm
anymore droplet horsefly
anyplace earache houseboat
anything earrings inside
anywhere evergreen jawbone
armchair everybody ladybug
backache everyday landlady
background eyeball landlord
backpack fingerprint leadership
basketball firearm leaflet
bathrobe firefighter lengthwise
bathtub fireplace lighthouse
battleship fireproof loudspeaker
bedroom fireworks masterpiece
beeline fishtail matchstick
birthday football meatball
blackboard footprint moonlight
bookcase forecast myself
booklet foresee necktie
bookshelf forget newspaper
bookworm forgive nobody
briefcase fourfold offhand
buttercup friendship online
butterfly gentleman otherwise
campfire goldfish outdoor
campground goldfish outfield
candlestick grandfather outfit
cardboard grandmother outgrow
carpet grandstand outlaw
chopstick grasshopper outlet
classmate graveyard outnumber
clockwise greenhouse outpatient
courtyard groundnut outside
cowboy hailstorm overboard
cupboard hallway overdose
cutlet handcuff overdue
daredevil headache pancake
daydream headlight partnership
dishwasher headmaster penknife
dishwater headmistress photocopy
doorbell heartbeat playground
doormat heartbroken playroom
doorstep highway popcorn
doorstop homework postman
doorway honeycomb railway
rainbow wheelbarrow
raindrops wheelchair
rattlesnake woodcutter
ringworm woodland
sandbags woodpile
sandcastle woodshed
sandpaper woodwork
seafood woodworm
seashore yourself
seaweed
shipwreck
shoestring
shortbread
skateboard
skyscraper
snowboard
snowstorm
something
soundproof
spaceship
staircase
starlight
stomachache
strawberry
sunlight
sunshine
superhuman
superimpose
supernatural
surfboard
tailgate
teacup
teapot
thunderstorm
tightrope
timetable
tombstone
toolbox
toothbrush
understand
wallpaper
wardrobe
warship
watermelon
waterproof
weekend